Coping with customs is no easy trick: Only 36% of 751 small-business exporters surveyed by Federal Express Corp. said they understand the regulations for countries to which they export. In fact, when asked about major obstacles, export managers for businesses with 100 employees or less named customs the No.1 barrier. Getting products through takes an average of four days, the survey found.
Surprisingly, most businesses told Federal Express they suffer no financial loss as a result of delays. "They are being incredibly naive when they say that," says James J. Wheeler, vice-president of Global Trade Services, noting the phone calls, the aggravation, and the loss of a customer's "good will." The top three markets for small business exports? Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom, the survey found.